Bahrain’s Hunger Striker’s Daughter Remanded in Jail for 7 Days , for sitting on a Main Road
Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested on Saturday after she sat on the main road running past Bahrain’s financial district during days of Shia protests held to show the World the Plight of the People of Bahrain , a time when the race was drawing international media attention.
Activists are pressing for democratic reforms in a country dominated by the al-Khalifa family, a Wahabi dynasty that rules over a majority Shia population.
Khawaja’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi, said: “They decided yesterday to hold her for seven days for holding up traffic and insulting a public official. She refused to talk in the investigations or to sign papers.”
The pro-government al-Bilad newspaper cited the prosecution’s charge as “aggressing against a woman police officer by force and verbally insulting her”.
Khawaja, a vocal critic who often leads protest marches, was held for several days in February and December. A YouTube video at the time showed women officers dragging her away by force. But charges were never pressed.
“This time, they are being tougher with her,” Jishi said, adding that Khawaja denied having insulted the women officers.
International rights groups have called for the release of her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, and 13 other protest leaders in jail for their role in the pro-democracy uprising that erupted in February 2011.
An appeals court on Monday delayed the men’s case to 30 April, prompting Amnesty International to accuse the authorities of playing with Khawaja’s life. The government, however, says he is in good health in a military hospital.
Bahrain has been in turmoil since the protests began. Though martial law and Saudi troops were brought in to crush them after one month, the strife has continued, with regular mass marches by opposition parties and violent clashes with riot police.
Foreign governments, rights groups and media watchdogs have criticised Bahrain’s handling of the protests, and the slow pace of reforms.
After a public relations debacle over the grand prix, the government said it had appointed a new minister of state for information affairs.
Meanwhile, mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Khawaja and his wife, Khadija al-Mousawi, said on Wednesday that there has been no information on his health since two days ago.
“Something is very wrong. He was talking about accepting death as the path of freedom, he sounded very weak and tired,” Reuters quoted Mousawi as saying, referring to her last conversation with Khawaja on Monday.
Khawaja, the co-founder and former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, went on hunger strike in early February to protest against the life sentence he received last year and Manama’s ongoing crackdown
Despite national and international calls for Khawaja’s release, Manama has so far refused to drop charges against him. Bahrain’s Court of Cassation is due to rule on Khawaja’s appeal against his conviction next week.
Amnesty International considers Khawaja a ‘prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.’
- Another Shia Protestor embraced Martyrdom after Being shot by Saudi Backed Bahraini Forces (jafrianews.com)